Anthony Gordon says it “feels amazing” to have the faith of Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti, revealing he is playing with more confidence than at any stage of his burgeoning career.
The exciting forward was handed his first Everton start in last Sunday’s Merseyside derby draw at Goodison Park before coming on as a substitute in the Blues’ 1-0 win at Norwich City on Wednesday.
England Under-19 international Gordon has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign.
After a blistering start to the season with David Unsworth’s Everton Under-23s, Gordon was swiftly promoted to the Toffees’ first-team set-up.
He made his maiden senior appearance this term in December’s Carabao Cup tie against Leicester City and has regularly featured in matchday squads under Italian boss Ancelotti.
Ancelotti recently declared Gordon “is an important part of the Club’s future” and the Academy graduate outlined how the former AC Milan manager’s belief has served to elevate his game to a new level.
“I’m so confident in myself now, a lot more than when I first came up to the first team,” Gordon told evertontv.
“The manager is such a nice person.
“For him to trust me, starting a Merseyside derby for my Premier League debut and then trying to defend a lead in an important game [against Norwich], it’s amazing, really.”
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GORDON ON HIS SOARING CONFIDENCE AND ANCELOTTI'S IMPACT
Gordon was introduced in the latter stages of Wednesday’s game at Carrow Road, with the home side desperately searching a leveller as they fight for Premier League survival.
The 19-year-old, then, was aware of the importance of his defensive duties as the Blues strived to see out the victory.
Gordon performed his task to the letter as Everton saw out the game with little alarm, notably winning a crunching tackle to prevent a potential Norwich attack.
“As a kid, I was told the defensive side was what I couldn’t do,” he explained.
“In a close game like the Norwich one, I may not have been put on as a substitute.
“Now I can be trusted. It means so much to me, I can look back and see how far I’ve come in that aspect of the game.”
Gordon’s professionalism and humility has also drawn praise from boss Ancelotti, which the youngster says “is the best compliment I can have”.
“I try my best to make a good impression on everyone,” he adds.
“I think I’m quite mature for my age. I try to carry myself like a man, and for the manager to say things like that is unbelievable.
“I hope people recognise me for that as much as for what I do on the pitch.”
Having joined Everton aged 11, born-and-bred Scouser Gordon recognises how much it means to Evertonians to see a local player come through the ranks to star for the first-team.
He is eager to follow in the footsteps of the wealth of Merseyside talents who have embarked on that journey.
“As a local Scouse lad, I always wanted to see young Scousers coming through,” he said.
“Young local lads such as Tom [Davies], Ross Barkley and people like that.
“They were my favourite players.
“I understand, being in this position [a local Academy graduate playing in the first team] what Everton fans will want from me.”
Gordon’s immediate attention is on helping Everton continue to push up the Premier League table as the Toffees aim to secure a spot in Europe next season.
With seven games of the 2019/20 season remaining, 10th-placed Everton are now just four points behind Tottenham Hotspur in seventh, a position which could bank a Europa League place.
“The Norwich win was massive,” Gordon said.
“They’re in a relegation battle so we knew coming into the game they’d be right up for it. We’re fighting for Europe as well and we had to be up for it, too.
“We were and we got the win, so that’s the most important thing.
“If you want to be recognised as a top team and top players, you want to be in those [European] competitions and showcase yourselves to the rest of Europe.”